Decentralized energy adoption by small businesses could be key to achieving the UK’s climate and energy security ambitions, a national trade group has argued.
In a new report, ‘The Price of Power: Energising small business in the next UK Carbon Plan’, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that if the government does not improve incentives and remove barriers to decentralized energy uptake for small firms, the nation could fail to meet its climate obligations.
The report called for a new national carbon plan which would include strategies for promoting microgeneration, energy efficiency, energy storage and demand-side response for small businesses.
According to research carried out by the FSB, one in 10, or 12% of UK-based small businesses generate their own energy, largely from on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. The group said ‘more needs to be done to encourage the other 88%’.
In addition, the FSB said that three in five, or 58% of small businesses have implemented energy efficiency measures, but ‘many are disempowered or not given enough incentives’ to take it further.
Other findings of the report include: 86% of small businesses believe the UK is too reliant on imported energy; 61% say energy is a ‘significant cost’ for their business; 60% say security of supply is a top priority; and 41% believe renewable and low-carbon energy will be cheaper than fossil fuel in future.
The trade group argued that the next UK carbon plan should promote microgeneration, including for the 46% of small businesses which rent their premises. The group also called for a review of the effectiveness of subsidies and incentives to help small businesses ‘climb over the hurdles to energy investment’.
Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: ‘Our research shows small firms want energy security to be a priority. Brexit raises yet more questions about the UK’s future power supply. Infrastructure costs must be shared out equitably with small firms playing a pivotal role in securing Britain’s energy future.
‘Many small businesses are willing and capable of becoming more energy efficient, and even generating energy,’ he added. ‘With the right support, they can play a critical role in helping the UK reach its green targets and shore up supply.’